The annals of early 20th century roadside architecture are littered with the sad reality that novelty buildings in strange shapes hold little promise of future adaptability. This was never truer than the tortured fate of the Steigerwald Milk bottle at the corner of Sandy and 37th Ave in Portland which has managed to look sadder with every passing iteration since its original glory as a giant milk bottle.
The bottle/building stood 75-ft tall and was the tallest structure in Northeast Portland when it was built in 1926. Inside, an iron spiral stair permitted access to the circular roof, atop which a Christmas tree with electric bulbs was erected every December. Ten years later the dairy was sold and with it the building to Pabco Paint. The bottle was blunted to become a couple of paint cans stacked on end. In 1940, 7-Up made use of the bottle and placed an iconic art-decco sign with animated carbonated bubbles rising.
By 2002 the derelict neon was repurposed as a Budweiser sign built on the same base and thus looking quite amorphous. Most recently the sign has morphed into its ugliest version yet: an ad for Director’s Mortgage, consistent with that firm’s tradition of aggressively ugly advertising. Lets hope the shocking rise in property values leads a wise developer to see the potential for this landmark building and does something imaginative with it.